Inhibitory control is associated with the activation of output-driven competitors in a spoken word recognition task
Although lexical competition has been ubiquitously observed in spoken word recognition, less has been known about whether the lexical competitors interfere with the recognition of the target and how lexical interference is resolved. The present study examined whether lexical competitors overlapping in output with the target would interfere with its recognition, and tested an underestimated hypothesis that the domain-general inhibitory control contributes to the resolution of lexical interference. Specifically, in this study, a Visual World Paradigm was used to access the temporal dynamics of lexical activations when participants were moving the mouse cursor to the written word form of the spoken word they heard. By using Chinese characters, the orthographic similarity between the lexical competitor and target was manipulated independently of their phonological overlap. The results demonstrated that behavioral performance in the similar condition was poorer compared to that in the control condition, and that individuals with better inhibitory control (having smaller Stroop interference effect) exhibited weaker activation of orthographic competitors (mouse trajectories less attracted by the orthographic competitors). The implications of these findings for our understanding of lexical interference and its resolution in spoken word recognition were discussed.